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Juanita Palacio Brings Pot Luck Tradition

Oct 17, 2016 | News

Juanita Palacia

Juanita Palacia

The tradition of a potluck dinner may date back to early times but it’s an event that continues to endure. People get together across the country bringing dishes large enough to be shared by a group ranging from salads and main courses to desserts.

Juanita Palacio decided to initiate this tradition on Sunday nights at East Ridge.

She had been living at the life plan community since 2014 and found Sundays would be a perfect time to try to bring people together for an informal get-together.

“I’m not a cook, but I’m a natural organizer,” she said.

Before retiring from a career in banking, she had always been the one to organize office parties and birthday celebrations.

“I love doing it,” she said. “The first Sunday pot luck was a small group of people but word quickly spread and interest in our monthly dinners grew. People heard about the dinner and didn’t want to miss the next one.”

The East Ridge Lifestyle Center offers a kitchen with an oven so it was a perfect gathering place. The monthly pot luck dinners have been underway for about a year.

“This has helped me meet more people living at East Ridge,” she explained. “There are a lot of phone calls with participants and helping people figure out what they can bring. I tell them just bring what you like. Some people don’t want to cook but that shouldn’t keep you away. The supermarket has plenty of food that doesn’t require cooking.”

She said that they’ve began theming the dinners. In May, for example, Cinco de Mayo inspired the pot luck. In September, the dinner had an international theme and no American food was served. Volunteers planned their contributions. The menu includes Florence Brantley’s Spanish omelet, something Italian by Joan Sconzo’s and Emilia Montes’ flan. There was Armenia lamb stew, Mexican quesadillas, Cuban picadillo, plantains and black beans and rice and Columbian empanadas. Dessert celebrated someone’s birthday with three birthday cakes and coconut flan.

There’s always wine and beer and soft drinks.

“It’s not so much about the food,” Juanita explains. “There’s great conversation and comradery. That’s what it really is all about.”